Selectboard appoints interview committee

Charlotte’s search for a new town administrator or town manager took one step forward on Monday night, July 10, with the appointment of three volunteers to a committee that will help screen applicants for the position.

Assistant town clerk and treasurer Emily Tupper and two former selectboard chairs, Charles Russell and Moe Harvey, will join current selectboard members Lewis Mudge and Kelly Devine on the interview committee.

A solicitation for candidates to fill the three spots reserved for members of the public yielded just four responses over the course of two weeks. Devine, who did not attend the July 10 meeting, advocated in writing to give townspeople more time to throw their hats into the ring, but for the rest of the selectboard, an eagerness to keep the process moving prevailed.

After a round of brief public interviews and a short executive session, the board appointed the three candidates who had shown up to make their case. It didn’t hear from the fourth, Kim Kanios, who, per town administrator Dean Bloch, could not make it to the meeting that night.

Tupper, Russell and Harvey all reported experience in hiring. Harvey, in particular, emphasized that, as a business owner for nearly half a century, he’d found “some great employees that have been with us for 30, 35 years, so I do know how to hire people.”

The actual task of hiring in this case, however, will belong to the selectboard. The interview committee will play an advisory role, examining résumés and talking to applicants before recommending finalists for the selectboard’s consideration.

Tupper expressed a belief that involving Charlotte’s existing municipal workforce in the decision “right from the start” would help ensure a good fit and would lay the groundwork for a collaborative atmosphere in town hall. The selectboard hired Tupper last year.

“I think it’s critical to have employee perspective and employee voice,” she said. “Employees individually bring so much to their role, not just experience and skill in all that they do, but they’ve got the boots on the ground, and when they work together, that’s when success can happen.”

Tupper stressed her neutrality on the question of whether Charlotte should maintain its existing system of government, with a town administrator, or make the switch to a town manager. Harvey, on the other hand, acknowledged skepticism about the potential changeover.

“Historically, being run by the selectboard and having a town administrator has worked pretty well,” he opined.

Russell seemed to represent the opposite side of issue, owing to his place within “that original committee for the town manager,” as selectboard chair Jim Faulkner put it, referring to the group of residents who’d gathered signatures to hold a vote on the matter. But Russell clarified that he wanted now only to “hire the best person for the job,” regardless of which job it might ultimately be.

“In terms of the town manager, the most important point from my point of view was that it be considered in a timely manner, which you guys are now doing,” Russell said.

As of July 10, Charlotte had heard from eight job seekers. The town will continue to accept applications until 4 p.m. this Friday, July 14.